Contesting Beneficiary Wrongful Death Claim Settlements

When beneficiaries are awarded a wrongful death claim settlement, it sometimes can create discord and other problems if beneficiaries do not feel they received fair compensation from the settlement. As a result, it could lead to family members contesting the court’s decision. A Denver injury attorney can help Colorado families with their claim.

What are reasons a claim settlement might be contested?

When a family member dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, compensation may be available to surviving family members. Generally, the distribution of the claim settlement is dependent on who has the legal right to the monies. This is typically based on financial interest or if the deceased had a will.

One of the reasons that a settlement might be contested is that there is a disagreement as to who has the right to collect. Sometimes the individual (personal representative) who initiates legal action by filing a wrongful death claim assumes this right. However, a personal representative may or may not be entitled to damages. This depends on whether the individual had a financial interest or if there was a will stipulating his/her designation as a beneficiary.

Whenever a will is involved and a settlement becomes part of the estate, there are other reasons it may be contested. For instance, it might be argued that it was drawn up and signed under duress. Other reasons are that it was done under fraudulent circumstances or the person didn’t have the mental capacity to make an informed decision. If these issues are at play, a Denver injury attorney will investigate the case.

Who is entitled to the recovery of a wrongful death claim settlement?

The following are examples of beneficiaries who may be entitled to a wrongful death settlement in Colorado:

  • spouses;
  • children;
  • parents (if unmarried without a designated beneficiary); and
  • beneficiaries designated in a will.

The jury is responsible for awarding a fair and just settlement based on both economic and noneconomic damages. The settlement is based on who is entitled to compensation, given the losses they may experience, which is sometimes a situation in which the disbursement may be contested.

What types of damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?

Economic damages generally are awarded in a claim settlement. These cover financial losses, such as medical bills. If a loved one’s death was preceded by medical care and treatment (emergency services, hospitalization, etc.), those costs might be recovered. These damages might also include funeral expenses and the earnings that surviving family members are now without.

Noneconomic damages address psychological losses such as emotional stress, inconvenience, pain and suffering, grief, and loss of companionship. In Colorado, the amount recoverable for these types of damages is limited to $250,000. There are sometimes exceptions in which a jury might award a higher amount. However, under no circumstances can noneconomic damages exceed $500,000.

Do I need to seek legal counsel with a Denver injury attorney when filing a Colorado wrongful death claim?

These cases can become even more challenging if there is an attempt to contest the right to a settlement. Consulting a Denver injury attorney may be the best way for Colorado beneficiaries to understand awards and how they may be disbursed. Contact D.J. Banovitz at 303-300-5060 to schedule an appointment to discuss a wrongful death claim or a contested claim settlement.

D.J. Banovitz’ career has always concentrated on trial practice and he has litigated hundreds of cases. His passion and sole career focus has been to seek justice for people suffering from personal injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence. The hallmark of the Law Office of D.J. Banovitz, is the total commitment to professionalism, quality, and personalized care of your injury case. D.J. has dedicated his professional life to helping those most in need and is a proud and active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. His experience includes volunteering for Colorado Rural Legal Services in Montrose, the Colorado Aids Project, consumer law, family law, criminal defense, and Alternative Defense Counsel for juveniles in Denver.